© St. Petersburg Times
published December 15, 2002
I feel so good the Bowl Championship Series has decided the best college football game for us again. I can rest easy knowing the best teams are playing in the Orange Bowl. Oops. Isn't that how it was supposed to work?
If there were an eight- or 16-team playoff, I don't think Miami or Ohio State would make the final. But we'll never know until the powers that be come to their senses. Now the rest of the bowls are meaningless, and that is too bad.
-- Dave Rodman, Dunedin
Coach John Tortorella had every right to be frustrated and upset over some of the calls (or lack of calls) made by officials Dan Halloran and Dennis LaRue in the game between the Lightning and Blackhawks Dec. 8. Tortorella's frustration led to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing a noncall when defenseman Pavel Kubina was hooked from behind by Igor Korolev just before Korolev's empty-net goal with 46.3 seconds left. A penalty to Korolev would have given the Lightning a power play and a two-man advantage with goalie Nikolai Khabibulin on the bench.
It may not have changed the outcome, but it would have given the Lightning a chance to tie and possibly earn a point in the standings. With Carolina in close pursuit, every point is important. If Tortorella is fined, then referees should be fined for lapses in officiating and for not maintaining highest standards of accountability.
-- Manny Andrade, Clearwater
The Lightning has done an exemplary job of putting together an exiting product for fans. It has proven its system, with a group of hustling, talented young players and a few special veterans, can compete with the best teams.
Unfortunately, it has an obstacle that it may not be able to overcome: Poor officiating in the NHL apparently is not limited to the boondocks of hockeydom. Recent games in Boston and Chicago were affected materially by poor officiating decisions, both actively and passively. My enthusiasm as a fan is waning.
The calls and lack of calls are inconsistent from month to month, game to game and period to period. Blatantly bad calls are not a rare exception. This year's poor showing seems to be a continuation of this phenomenon.
The NHL owes it to the fans and the Lightning organization to explain why such an amateurish group is allowed to affect their show. Make officials accountable for their performance. Tell me what is being done to correct the official who disallowed the goal in Boston on Dec. 7. The NHL is not the only game in town. If the NHL wants me to continue to support its product and pay major-league prices, it will have to show me it is "major league."
-- Bill Quinn, Bradenton
Tortorella says he is disgusted by Kubina's play. Yet all the fans see is the same old Kubina and hear the same old excuse. Well, guess what, Kubina? Torts didn't make an impression on you. Your peers didn't make an impression on you. But the fans let you know they weren't happy. We need you to step up the play, make better decisions and play this game like it means something to you.
Fans don't want to boo anyone, and booing one's players is the last resort to getting someone's attention. Play like that and make good decisions and the booing will die down. This team is in a unique position. It can do things that no other Lightning team since 1996 has done. It can go places, but Kubina has to make the commitment and be responsible and accountable for his actions and his results on the ice.
-- Pattie Meade, via e-mail
Thanks for the Hubert Mizell column about the Army-Navy game (Nothing says patriotism like Army-Navy football, Dec. 8). I hope your readers captured the spirit of the game and players-Midshipmen-Cadets who make a difference in our world.
-- Pete Leniart, Clearwater
Until the article on Tampa wall climber Chris Brown was published (23-year-old Floridian takes adventure to new heights, Nov. 22), I had never clipped anything out of the Times. It was refreshing to see some light shown on a popular and growing sport, and a side of the sporting world that pits a person against nature and their own physical limitations.
This is not to say that stories about the exciting world of bottom fishing don't cause a few sweaty palms. But there is a large contingent of climbers and mountaineers in the bay area who do appreciate a nod now and again. We don't do it to get stories written about us or to hang a trophy on our wall. We do it because it is a challenge and indeed a sport. Brown deserves a little praise and is an exceptional athlete.
-- Leon Watts, Tampa
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